With the nickname Hollywood drama is always likely to follow former World Rally Champion Petter Solberg as today he got his FIA European Rallycross Championship career off to a start at Lydden Hill.
The Citreon DS3 Supercar he is racing this weekend was built from scratch and only started just three weeks ago, with this in mind it is no surprise there were going to be a few teething problems.
During practice Solberg finished six in the first session before blasting the opposition in 42.875 seconds and finishing the second practice on top.
Following on from practice Solberg moved on to two qualification races where he went head-to-head with four other competitors. The first race started with a bad start and ended with a broken clutch, finishing half a lap down on the leaders.
Looking to make amends in the second heat he stood up to the challenge and fought his way to the front, passing Tanner Foust for the lead with one lap to go, despite the fragile clutch.
“We’re here and we’re competitive but it took a massive effort!” said Solberg. “I think most of our mechanics have slept for around three hours over the last two days, so we really needed this. I’m so grateful for everybody’s efforts, which have been amazing, and also for the warm welcome we have received, which was incredible too.
“We showed some good speed but it was a pity about the first heat: I let the clutch up at the start and nothing happened! Even in the second heat, which we won, the clutch was burning like hell and I had also hit the Armco earlier, so the car wasn’t easy to drive at all. In the end we did it but the real work comes tomorrow…”
Tomorrow the focus moves to the semi-finals and then on to the grand finale of the day.
“My first day of rallycross since 1996 has certainly been memorable!” added Solberg. “But bearing in mind how little time we had to prepare and our lack of experience here; I think it went very well. We’ve got another long night of work ahead and then tomorrow everyone can be sure that as usual we’ll be giving it 110%! On the spoiler of my car you can see the words “flat out” – and that’s exactly how I’m going to be driving…”